|Cinema of Taiwan|
|No. of screens||784 (2017)|
|Gross box office (2017)|
|National films||$729 million (6.90%)|
The cinema of Taiwan (Chinese :臺灣電影 or 台灣電影) is deeply rooted in the island's unique history. Since its introduction to Taiwan in 1901 under Japanese rule, cinema has developed in Taiwan under ROC rule through several distinct stages. It has also developed outside the Hong Kong mainstream and the censorship of the People's Republic of China in the mainland.
In recent years, Taiwan's film industry has received recognition due to a number of internationally respected filmmakers, such as Hou Hsiao-hsien, Edward Yang, and the Malaysian-Chinese Tsai Ming-liang.
Important Taiwanese directors from the 1990s include Chen Kuo-fu, Tsui Siu Ming, and independent producer Huang Ming-chuan Lai.
From the late Japanese colonial period to martial law in Taiwan, the development of Taiwanese film was dominated by the official camp studio development. The film produced during that stage was mainly news footage taken by the government-run studio (Taiwan film companies, the Central Motion Picture Corporation, China Film Studio) and political propaganda. Even today, the Taiwanese government maintains a "Film Fund" to financially support the film industry of the country. The fund is somewhat controversial yet is still well supported.
The Government Information Office is in charge of the film grant. Grants are divided into two groups of $5 million and $800 million. The production cost works out to be around a minimum of $120 million across 15 films. The application contains certain specifications to allow the correct amount of money to be allocated to a given film's production, for example the purpose of the $5 million grant is to encourage new directors directing a feature film for the first time.
In recent years, documentary films from Taiwan have also become more popular. The development of Taiwanese documentaries began after lifting of martial law in 1987 and the rise in popularity of small electronic camcorders, as well as the support and promotion provided by the Taiwan Council for Cultural Affairs. Documentaries also receive support from other government agencies and private corporations. A variety of film festivals and awards have been established to encourage the production of documentaries.
Taiwanese documentaries often deal with themes related to the filmmaker or their family, and explore serious social or political issues. These documentaries have started to gain international attention gradually, and many have gone on to win awards at international film festivals.
The first film was introduced into Taiwan by Toyojirō Takamatsu (高松豊次郎; see 高松豐次郎) in 1901. Taiwanese cinema was the first, and from 1900 to 1937, one of the most important of Japan's colonial film markets during the era of Japanese rule. In 1905, Takamatsu raised 10,000 Japanese yen in donations to the Japanese military from the proceeds of films screened in Taiwan about the Russo-Japanese War. By 1910, the Taiwan Colonial Government coordinated the efforts of independent filmmakers such as Takamatsu and others to establish a more organized approach to the production of film in the colony of Taiwan. Films played a vital role in enabling the larger colonial project of imperialization or cultural assimilation of Taiwanese subjects into the Japanese empire. The first silent film produced in Taiwan was An Introduction to the Actual Condition of Taiwan , a propaganda documentary that Takamatsu directed in 1907. Takamatsu noted that early films were produced mostly for Japanese audiences rather than for local Taiwanese. Hence, early films tended to be educational in nature, lauding Japan's modernizing presence on the island. Other films catered to Japanese audiences exotic desires for Taiwan as a place of adventure and danger such as Conquering Taiwan's Native Rebels (1910) and Heroes of the Taiwan Extermination Squad (1910).
Many conventions in Japanese films were adopted by the Taiwanese filmmakers. For example, the use of a benshi (narrator of silent films), which was a very important component of the film-going experience in Japan, was adopted and renamed piān-sū 哀愁の歌, 1919), The Eyes of Buddha (仏陀の瞳, 1922), and Whose Mistake? (誰の過失, 1925).by the Taiwanese. This narrator was very different from its equivalent in the Western world. It rapidly evolved into a star system but one based on the Japanese system. In fact, people would go to see the very same film narrated by different benshi, to hear the other benshi's interpretation. A romance could become a comedy or a drama, depending on the narrator's style and skills. Lu, a famous actor and benshi in Taiwan wrote the best reference book on Taiwanese cinema. The first Taiwanese benshi master was a musician and composer named Wang Yung-feng, who had played on a regular basis for the orchestra at the Fang Nai Ting Theatre in Taipei. He was also the composer of the music for the Chinese film Tao hua qi xue ji (China, Peach girl, 1921) in Shanghai. Other famous Taiwanese benshi masters were Lu Su-Shang and Zhan Tian-Ma. Lu Su-shang, is not primarily remembered for his benshi performances, but mainly for writing the inestimable history of cinema and drama in Taiwan. The most famous benshi of all was possibly Zhan Tian-ma, whose story is told in a recent Taiwanese biographical film, March of Happiness (Taiwan, 1999, dir: Lin Sheng-shing). Benshi masters frequently were intellectuals: many spoke Japanese, often traveled to Japan and/or China, and some were poets who wrote their own librettos for each film. From 1910, films started to be distributed with a script, but the benshi often preferred to continue with their own interpretations. Notable films during this period include Song of Sadness (
Unlike Japanese-occupied Manchuria, Taiwan never became an important production market for Japan but rather was a vital exhibition market. Japanese-produced newsreels, shorts, educational, and feature films were widely circulated throughout Taiwan from the mid-1920s through 1945 and even after decolonization. As in Japan's other colonial film markets, the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937 marked the beginning of an era of enhanced mobilization for the Japanese war effort throughout Asia and Taiwan's film markets were purged of American and Chinese films as a result. The Japanese strove to transform the locals into Japanese citizens, giving them Japanese names, a Japanese education, encouraging them to wear Japanese clothes and the men to cut their long hair. Films such as Japanese Police Supervise a Taiwanese Village (1935) illustrated how "proper" imperial subjects should dress and act as well as promoting their superior farming skills thanks to the Japanese overlords.Taiwanese directors would vividly revisit the legacy of this process of cultural annexation in such films as Hou Hsiao-hsien's City of Sadness (1989) and The Puppetmaster (1993), as well as Wu Nien-jen's A Borrowed Life (1994).
Taiwanese cinema grew again after 1949, when the end of the Chinese civil war brought many filmmakers sympathetic to the Nationalists to Taiwan. Even then, the majority of films were still made in Taiwanese Hokkien and this continued for many years. In 1962, out of a total of 120 films produced, only seven were made in Mandarin; the rest were made in Taiwanese. However, the production of films in Taiwanese began to decline due to a variety of reasons, ranging from limited scope and waning interest for such films, to the Nationalist government's promotion of Standard Chinese in mass media and its deeming of Taiwanese as too "coarse". The last movie filmed entirely in Taiwanese was made in 1981.
The 1960s marked the beginning of Taiwan's rapid modernization. The government focused strongly on the economy, industrial development, and education, and in 1963 the Central Motion Picture Corporation (CMPC; see 中影公司) introduced the "Health Realism" melodrama. This film genre was proposed to help build traditional moral values, which were deemed important during the rapid transformation of the nation's socioeconomic structure. During this time, traditional kung fu films as well as romantic melodramas were also quite popular. The author Chiung Yao is especially famous for the movies made in this time period which were based on her widely read romantic novels.
Taiwanese cinema of this period is related to censorship in the Republic of China and propaganda in the Republic of China.
By the early 1980s, the popularity of home video made film-watching a widespread activity for the Taiwanese. However, the Taiwanese film industry faced serious challenges, including the entry of Hong Kong films into the Taiwanese market. In order to compete with Hong Kong films, the CMPC began an initiative to support several fresh, young directors. In 1982, the film In Our Time (1982), which featured four young talented directors (Edward Yang, Te-Chen Tao, I-Chen Ko, and Yi Chang), began what would be known as the rejuvenation of Taiwanese cinema: the New Taiwanese Cinema.
In contrast to the melodrama or kung-fu action films of the earlier decades, New Taiwanese Cinema films are known for their realistic, down-to-earth, and sympathetic portrayals of Taiwanese life. These films sought to portray genuine stories of people living either in urban or rural Taiwan, and are often compared stylistically to the films of the Italian neorealism movement. This emphasis on realism was further enhanced by innovative narrative techniques. For example, the conventional narrative structure which builds the drama to a climax was abandoned and the story progressed at the pace as it would in real life.
Due to its honest portrayal of life, New Taiwanese Cinema films examined many of the important issues facing Taiwanese society at the time, such as urbanization, the struggle against poverty, and conflicts with political authority. For instance, Hou Hsiao-hsien's A City of Sadness portrays the tensions and the conflicts between the local Taiwanese and the newly arrived Chinese Nationalist government after the end of the Japanese occupation. Chen Kunhou's 1983 film Growing Up provides a nuanced perspective on the experience of a very young boy, from an ordinary family, getting into progressively more trouble. Edward Yang's Taipei Story (1985) and A Confucian Confusion (1994) talk about the confusion of traditional values and modern materialism among young urbanites in the 1980s and 1990s. His nearly four-hour film A Brighter Summer Day (1991), considered by many to be his masterpiece and the defining work of the New Taiwanese Cinema, deals with Taiwan's struggle in the 1960s to find its identity after the Kuomintang invaded Taiwan and brought numerous Chinese immigrants to the new republic, who expected to return to China once the Communists had been defeated.The New Taiwanese Cinema films therefore create a fascinating chronicle of Taiwan's socio-economic and political transformation in modern times.
The New Taiwanese Cinema gradually gave way to what could be informally called the Second New Wave, which are slightly less serious and more amenable to the populace, although just as committed to portraying the Taiwanese perspective.
For example, Tsai Ming-liang's Vive L'Amour , which won the Golden Lion at the 1994 Venice Film Festival, portrays the isolation, despair, and love of young adults living in the upscale apartments of Taipei. Stan Lai's The Peach Blossom Land (1992) is a tragi-comedy involving two groups of actors rehearsing different plays on the same stage; the masterful juxtaposition and the depth of the play's political and psychological meanings helped it win recognition at festivals in Tokyo and Berlin.
Ang Lee is perhaps the most well-known of the Second New Wave directors. His early films Pushing Hands (1991), The Wedding Banquet (1993), and Eat Drink Man Woman (1994) focus on the generational and cultural conflicts confronting many modern families. His Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) revived the wuxia genre successfully. Although not in the tradition of New Wave or Second New Wave, it is a commercial success which placed Asian films firmly in the international domain. The recent films Eternal Summer (2006), Prince of Tears (2009) and Winds of September (2009) have pushed the boundaries of Taiwanese film-making and broken the island's long-standing taboos about the depiction of controversial subject matter.
Taiwanese cinema faced difficult times competing with Hollywood blockbusters in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Box office for local films dwindled to less than 20 films annually and many Taiwanese viewers preferred watching Hong Kong or Hollywood productions, causing the country's film industry to be dominated by foreign repertoire.[ citation needed ] Taiwan's film industry went into decline in 1994 and collapsed in 1997 because of the growing popularity of movie piracy. The high box office takings of Cape No. 7 (2008) and Taiwanese films after 2008 proved that the local film industry had recovered from its slump. Cape No. 7 was so popular in Taiwan that on 1 November 2008 it became its highest grossing domestic film, second in the country's cinematic history to Titanic (1997). Another recent popular local film is the gangster flick Monga (2010).
In 2008, Cape No. 7 directed by Wei Te-sheng was a huge box office success. It raked in 530 million TWD (17.9 million USD) domestically, setting an all-time box office record for a Taiwanese film, and is currently the highest grossing Taiwanese domestic film of all time.It has won 15 awards to date, such as The Outstanding Taiwanese Film of the Year at the 45th Golden Horse Awards in 2008. The record-breaking achievement led the revival of Taiwanese cinema, e.g. Monga (2010), Seven Days in Heaven (2010), Night Market Hero (2011), Love (2012) and many others.
After the success of Cape No. 7, the Taiwanese movie industry began to recover from a slump that had lasted for about 10 years.The head of the Government Information Office stated that "2011 will be a brand new year and a new start for Taiwanese films". The director of Cape No. 7, Wei Te-sheng's follow-up movie, Seediq Bale (comprising a part 1 and part 2) was released in September 2011, with part 1 (The Sun Flag) being the 2nd highest grossing Taiwanese domestic film of all time and part 2 (The Rainbow Bridge) being the 7th highest grossing Taiwanese domestic film of all time. It was shown in competition at the 68th Venice International Film Festival and it was selected as a contender for nomination for the 84th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film in 2011 and was one of nine films shortlisted to advance to the next round of voting for nomination.
Some more examples are: The Killer Who Never Kills (2011), which is based on a short story in the Killer series written by Giddens Ko. Additionally, the popular 2009 TV series Black & White resulted in two feature films entitled: Black & White Episode I: The Dawn of Assault (2012) (a prequel to the TV series) and Black & White: The Dawn of Justice (2014) (another prequel to the TV series but a sequel to the 2012 film). In 2012, Giddens Ko's romance You Are the Apple of My Eye (2012) earned about NTD 425 million, making it the 4th highest grossing domestic Taiwanese film of all time, followed by Fung Kai's Din Tao: Leader of the Parade (2012) which earned NTD 317 million, making it the 8th highest grossing domestic Taiwanese film of all time. In 2013, Chiu Li-kwan's film David Loman (2013) earned NTD 428 million, making it The 3rd highest grossing domestic Taiwanese film of all time.
In 2015, female director Yu Shan Chen (a.k.a. Frankie Chen) released a film entitled Our Times (2015), which was the highest-grossing domestic Taiwanese film of the year, grossing over NT$410 million ($17.1 million US dollars), thereby making it the 5th highest grossing domestic Taiwanese film of all time.The film also starred Vivian Sung from another box-office success, Café. Waiting. Love (2014), the 11th highest grossing domestic Taiwanese film of all time. In 2014, Umin Boya directed a baseball film entitled Kano (2014), which ended up grossing over NT$330 million, making it the 6th highest grossing domestic Taiwanese film of all time.
The 9th-15th highest grossing Taiwanese domestic films of all time are, in order: Zone Pro Site (2013) (#9 with NTD 305 million), Ang Lee's Lust, Caution (2007) (#10 with NTD 280 million), Café. Waiting. Love (2014) (#11 with NTD 260 million), Monga (2010) (#12 with NTD 258 million), The Wonderful Wedding (2015) (#13 with NTD 250 million), Beyond Beauty: Taiwan from Above (2013) (#14 with NTD 220 million), and Twa-Tiu-Tiann (2014) (#15 with NTD 210 million).
Taiwanese filmmakers have attempted to cater to the Mainland Chinese market, and any films released on the mainland must comply with censorship that often involves downplaying or removing any indicators that Taiwan is a separate country from China.Such films include Hou Hsiao-hsien's The Assassin (2015), Yu Shan Chen's Our Times (2015), Gidden Ko's You Are the Apple of My Eye (2012), and The Wonderful Wedding (2015). All of these focus on cross-cultural themes marketable on the mainland and other parts of Asia, while purposefully avoiding use of the Taiwanese dialect and common symbols of Taiwanese nationality, like the flag. This is even the case in The Wonderful Wedding , which relies on comedic misunderstandings between the families of a mainland Chinese groom and Taiwanese bride, but attributes them to cultural differences on the regional level not the national level, something that has been described as a 'political whitewash'. Despite this, the film was more successful in Taiwan due to the variety of Taiwanese dialect comedic puns on Mandarin Chinese words. Successful films that focus on Taiwan have therefore predominantly been independent, low-budget, and aimed at the local market, such as John Hsu's Detention , which received five awards including Best Director at the 56th Golden Horse Awards.
Teng Sue-feng used Cape No. 7 as an example to discuss how profit is shared in Taiwan. Teng estimated the revenue to be NTD 520 million, and the production cost to be NTD 50 million. After deducting costs, 60% of the profit goes to movie theaters, and 10% to the distributor. The director gets about NT$140 million.
Lin Li-hui, better known by her stage name Shu Qi, is a Taiwanese–Hong Kong actress and model. As of 2014, she was among the highest paid actresses in Taiwan.
Hou Hsiao-hsien is a Taiwanese film director, screenwriter, producer and actor. He is a leading figure in world cinema and in Taiwan's New Wave cinema movement. He won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1989 for his film A City of Sadness (1989), and the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015 for The Assassin (2015). Other highly regarded works of his include The Puppetmaster (1993) and Flowers of Shanghai (1998).
Three Times is a 2005 Taiwanese film directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien. It consists of three separate stories of romance, set in different eras, using the same lead actors, Shu Qi and Chang Chen. In "A Time for Love," set in 1966, a soldier (Chang) meets an alluring pool-hall hostess (Shu). "A Time for Freedom," set in 1911, focuses on a courtesan's relationship with a freedom fighter during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan. In "A Time for Youth," set in 2005, a singer forsakes her female lover for a photographer with whom she's having an affair.
Taiwanese literature refers to the literature written by Taiwanese in any language ever used in Taiwan, including Japanese, Taiwanese Han and Austronesian languages.
A City of Sadness is a 1989 Taiwanese historical drama film directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien. It tells the story of a family embroiled in the "White Terror" that was wrought on the Taiwanese people by the Kuomintang government (KMT) after their arrival from mainland China in the late 1940s, during which thousands of Taiwanese and recent emigres from the Mainland were rounded up, shot, and/or sent to prison. The film was the first to deal openly with the KMT's authoritarian misdeeds after its 1945 takeover of Taiwan, which had been restored to China following Japan's defeat in World War II, and the first to depict the February 28 Incident of 1947, in which thousands of people were massacred by the KMT.
Wu Nien-jen is a scriptwriter, director, and author. He is one of the most prolific and highly regarded scriptwriters in Taiwan and a leading member of the New Taiwanese Cinema, although he has also acted in a number of films. He starred in Edward Yang's 2000 film Yi Yi. Wu is a well-known supporter of the Democratic Progressive Party and has filmed commercials for the party.
Taiwanese pop, Tai-pop, T-pop, Minnan Pop and Taiwanese song (台灣歌), is a C-Pop genre sung in Taiwanese Hokkien and produced mainly in Taiwan. Hokkien pop is the most popular amongst Hoklo people in Taiwan, Mainland China, and the Overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia.
Cape No. 7 is a 2008 Taiwanese romantic musical drama film written and directed by Wei Te-sheng, his first full-length motion picture. The film is in Taiwanese and Mandarin with significant lines in Japanese. Before its commercial release, the film had its world premiere on 20 June 2008 at the 2008 Taipei Film Festival as the opening film. The film later won 3 awards at the festival.
Wei Te-sheng is a Taiwanese film director and screenwriter. He directed Cape No. 7, currently the highest grossing domestic Taiwanese film and the second highest-grossing film in Taiwanese film history.
Taipei Story is a 1985 Taiwanese film directed, scored, and co-written by filmmaker Edward Yang — his second full-length feature film and third overall. The film stars Yang's fellow filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien, and singer Tsai Chin, whom Yang subsequently married. It is one of the earliest films of the New Taiwanese Cinema.
Daughter of the Nile is a 1987 film by Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien.
Dust of Angels is a 1992 Taiwanese crime film directed by Hsu Hsiao-ming, executive produced by Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien. It was entered into Directors' Fortnight at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival. "An lah" (安啦) is a Taiwanese Hokkien colloquialism; the title in full roughly translates to "take it easy, lad" or "cool it, kid."
Yingxiang was an important film journal published in Taiwan, comparable in its significance as a platform of debate to the importance of the Cahiers du Cinéma for the French debate about film, the significance of Bianco e nero in the Italian context, the impact of Filmkritik in Germany and of Screen for English-speaking cinema lovers.
Beyond Beauty: Taiwan from Above is a 2013 documentary film which documents Taiwan completely in aerial photography to underscore the need for environmental reforms. It is directed by aerial photographer Chi Po-lin and produced by Hou Hsiao-hsien, with narration by Wu Nien-jen. The music is composed by Ricky Ho, with three songs written and performed by Nolay Piho. The film opened on November 1, 2013 at 44 theaters in Taiwan, with Chinese and English subtitles. The film broke the Taiwan box office records for the largest opening weekend and the highest total gross of a locally produced documentary. The film was nominated for Best Documentary and Best Original Film Score at the 50th Golden Horse Awards, winning the best documentary category.
The Assassin is a 2015 wuxia film directed by Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien. A Taiwan/China/Hong Kong co-production, it was an official selection in the main competition section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. At Cannes, Hou won the award for Best Director. It was released in China and Hong Kong on 27 August, and a day later in Taiwan on 28 August 2015. It was selected as the Taiwanese entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards but it was not nominated.
Umin Boya, also known as Ma Chih-hsiang, is a Taiwanese aborigine writer, director and actor, and director of the historical baseball film Kano (2014). He also starred in Wei Te-sheng's Seediq Bale (2011).
52 Hz, I Love You is a 2017 Taiwanese musical drama film directed by Wei Te-sheng. It was released on January 26, 2017.
Ming Ji was a Taiwanese film director. As general manager of the Central Motion Picture Corporation, Ming worked extensively with many prominent Taiwanese New Wave directors, including Hsiao Yeh, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Wu Nien-jen, and Edward Yang. Ming received the Golden Horse Award for lifetime achievement in 2009.
Peggy Chiao is a Taiwanese/Chinese filmmaker, producer, distributor, educator, juror, critic, and author. She is known internationally as the "godmother of New Taiwan Cinema".
Chen Ming-chang (陳明章) is a Taiwanese folk singer, guitarist, Taiwanese yueqin player, composer, and producer born in Beitou. He is known for writing scores for the Hou Hsiao-Hsien films Dust in the Wind (1985) and The Puppetmaster (1993), as well as for songs such as "She Is Our Darling" and "Wandering to Tamsui". He is stylistically known for singing primarily in Taiwanese Hokkien, incorporating traditional styles and instruments into his music, as well as songs that represent the Taiwanese underclass.